How to Make a Terrarium

by Courtney Christensen

Whether you’re stuck at home due to a rainy day or the current pandemic quarantine, having an afternoon craft project is a great way to pass the time. A terrarium is a simple way to bring the outdoors inside. If you have kids at home, this is an opportunity to teach young ones about the environment and the water cycle. With a few steps, you can add a little greenery to your home.

Choosing a Container

The first step is choosing your container. The best, and most aesthetically pleasing, material is glass, but plastic will work as well. Acrylic plastic is nearly as clear as glass, and comes in many shapes and sizes. If you’re placing the terrarium someplace out of reach of children or pets, glass matches any room’s style. Otherwise, choose the less breakable acrylic.

When choosing a container, you should also think about size. Larger terrariums have more space for bigger plants, smaller ones can be used in almost any décor. Any container will work from giant fish tanks to small glass spice jars.

Terrariums can be opened or closed. While both types of terrariums are low maintenance, closed terrariums can be left alone almost entirely. An open terrarium will need to be watered about once a week, and can be tended easily.


Making Layers

The next step is to add your planting materials. These give terrariums their unique layered look. Pebbles or rocks should be the first layer. Choose the size of your rocks based on the size of your container. They will work as a drainage system for any water poured into the container. If you are utilizing a closed terrarium, a layer of activated charcoal should come next. Charcoal helps to filter air inside a closed terrarium to keep things fresh.

Next, a layer of potting soil. Make sure it is deep enough to accommodate the root system of any plant you choose. Then, you should place a moisture barrier. A layer of live moss will do the trick nicely, and it looks great, too. A light layer of sand also works, especially for plants from desert climates. You can even use mulch, if you have the space for it.

Best Plants

When deciding on the plants to choose for your terrarium, it’s important to consider 5 things.

  • How often do you need to water the plant?
  • How much humidity does it need?
  • How much sunlight does it need?
  • Does it need a high or low amount of air circulation?
  • What type of potting soil should be used?

Any answers to these questions are fine, but when you choose plants for your terrarium, their needs must match. If you choose four or five different types of plants, for example, they should all need the same amount of sunlight and water. As long as the environment is perfect for every plant, your terrarium will thrive.



  • Succulents
  • Cacti
  • Air plants
  • Moon Valley plant
  • Prayer plant
  • Creeping Fig
  • Baby’s Tears plant
  • Starfish plant
  • Nerve plant
  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • New Zealand Mother Fern
  • Victorian Brake Fern

Decorative Items

Lastly, it’s time to decorate your terrarium! Let your imagination run wild. You could choose to stay completely organic with rocks, bark, or moss as decoration. You could create a small zen garden in the middle of your terrarium. You can add miniature figurines. The options are endless, and they’re entirely up to you!


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